The range of what we think and do
Is limited by what we fail to notice
And because we fail to notice
That we fail to notice
There is little we can do
Until we notice
How failing to notice
Shapes our thoughts and deeds
• Psychiatrist R. D. Laing (quoted in The Power of Full Engagement)
I spoke at the second Take Your Brain to Lunch session today in Dallas, hosted and organized by our blogging colleagues Sara Smith and Cheryl Jensen. I presented my synopsis of The Power of Full Engagement, (The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz). It is a book that I have not revisited for quite some time. It is quite a book! A good book – useful helpful, clear.
Here’s a key quote:
We live in digital time. Our rhythms are rushed, rapid fire and relentless, our days carved up into bits and bytes. We celebrate breadth rather than depth, quick reaction more than considered reflection. We skim across the surface, alighting for brief moments at dozens of destinations but rarely remaining for long at any one. We race through our lives without pausing to consider who we really want to be or where we really want to go. We’re wired up but we’re melting down. We survive on too little sleep, wolf down fast foods on the run, fuel up with coffee, and cool down with alcohol and sleeping pills. Faced with relentless demands at work…, we return home feeling exhausted and often experience our families not as a source of joy and renewal, but as one more demand in an already overburdened life.
We walk around with day planners and to-do lists; Palm Pilots and BlackBerrys, instant pagers and pop-up reminders – all designed to help us manage our time better. We take pride in our ability to multitask, and we wear our willingness to put in long hours as a badge of honor. The term 24/7 describes a world in which work never ends.
As productivity rises even as unemployment rises, more and more people are having to accomplish more and more in essentially the same amount of time as before. Using time well is truly a survival skill. But the authors of this book argue that energy management is really the secret behind good time management.
The authors recommend that we all seek to become “corporate Athletes.” Here is what such a person focuses on:
• YOU MUST BECOME A CORPORATE ATHLETE®
1. Principle 1: Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
2. Principle 2: Because energy capacity diminishes with overuse and with underuse, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.
3. Principle 3: To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do.
4. Principle 4: Positive energy rituals – highly specific routines for managing energy – are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance.
If you are feeling a time squeeze, it is likely that you are actually experiencing an energy squeeze. Check out this fine book – it could be quite helpful and useful.
You can purchase my synopsis of this book, with audio and handout, from our companion web site at 15minutebusinessbooks.com.
It’s Monday morning. Time for a Monday morning quote:
First thing Monday morning, do you wake up envisioning – “Another week of stress and strain at work” – or “Another chance to do more of the things I love”?
This is one of the many fine quotes from the book by Robert Cooper, The Other 90%: How to Unlock Your Vast Untapped Potential for Leadership and Life.
I’ve been thinking a lot about issues of time/energy management lately. Recently I wrote this post: Is Everybody Tired, or is it Just Me? — Energy and Time Management in the Midst of Challenging Times. And I sense that a whole lot of people are tired.
I teach a few classes at one of the Dallas County Community Colleges as a member of the adjunct faculty. I am meeting quite a few fellow faculty members who teach the maximum number of classes, and then they also teach in other colleges outside of the district. They run from one engagement to another, piecing together a living. Independents (like me) especially have this problem. And the constant shift; the fact that they do not “go” to work, but they go from task to task, from “job” to “job,” adds to the stress.
But it’s not just independents. The people with “normal” jobs are equally stressed. Have you seen the latest productivity numbers. America’s productivity is up, but so is unemployment. The same (actually fewer) people are churning out more and more work. Productivity is up because individuals are doing more and more. Here’s the report summary:
The Washington Post carries an AP story this morning reporting that productivity rose by an annual rate of more than 6 percent during the second quarter, while labor costs plummeted. As the story notes, productivity, or output per hour of labor, is often “a key ingredient for rising living standards,” but in recent months companies have been using the output gains to cut costs and bolster their bottom lines. A related Wall Street Journal story offers further explanation. “The net result” of businesses squeezing more work out of fewer employees, the Journal writes, is “rising unemployment, stagnant wages, sagging consumer confidence — and better-than-expected corporate profits.”
So, for this Monday morning, I present a list of suggestions, things to do to help with the stress. These come from the Cooper book, The Other 90%. And when I remember to do these, I can tell you that they help. Here’s the list:
• The seven elements of a “break”:
• Deepen and relax your breathing.
• Change your view and catch some light.
• Re-balance your posture and loosen up.
• Sip ice water.
• Enjoy a moment of humor.
• Add some inspiration.
• EAT SMART.
• Start the day right: without a bang…
• Awaken without a jarring alarm.
• Turn on the lights.
• Get at least five minutes of relaxed physical activity.
• Enjoy several bites of a great-tasting breakfast.
Very practical. And I have tried to incorporate a few of them. For example, I have changed my alarm to a soothing “harp” choice (from my iPhone. It really is less jarring). I do sip ice water (he recommends cold, ice water . I don’t know why – but it works). And I periodically click on one of Andrew Sullinvan’s “mental health breaks” links (not always humorous, but always a nice distraction). Here’s one. And for inspiration, I read constantly — including the blog posts by Bob Morris on this blog
So – on a Monday morning, think about how you can begin and spend your week with passion and energy.
• You can order the synopsis of my presentation of The Other 90%, at our companion web site, 15 Minute Business Books.
Recently, Slate.com ran a test on who is better informed: newspaper readers exclusively or internet readers exclusively, in its News Junkie Smackdown. The winner seemed to be neither, with both sides wanting and missing the other side’s sources. But as I read the multi-entry series, I realized how tired I felt just from the task of reading the news. I read the news constantly – as do so many of us these days. And I feel that if I miss a story, then somehow I have fallen behind in the universe. Keeping up is wearing me out.
There are other tasks that are wearing us out – I think we are a tired people, collectively. Many of my friends now work as “independents,” perpetually scrambling for the next financial possibility, feeling the pressure constantly. Those who work for large organizations are feeling the pressure also. The next round of layoffs seems to be right around the corner. (How many of us personally know someone who has been laid off?) The strain of the economy seems to fill many with a deepening, underlying, constant uncertainty – about nearly everything. And such uncertainty, such insecurity, is very, very tiring. Not to mention that financial pressures are equally very, very tiring, and many face these on a regular basis.
Are there books to help? I think so. Two that I have read, neither “new’ but both still valuable, are The Power of Full Engagement and Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Of course, everyone knows about David Allen’s best seller. An entire industry has been created providing GTD aps for the iPhonie, following Allen’s principles. He is so right that any thing that clutters the life or the mind is burden producing and burden sustaining. Getting it off of the mind and into a place where it can be retrieved when needed is critical to one’s sanity, and energy level. Here are a few key quotes:
• Almost everyone I encounter these days feels he or she has too much to handle and not enough time to get it all done.
• In the old days, you knew what work had to be done – you could see it. It was clear when the work was finished, or not finished. Now, for many of us, there are no edges to most of our projects. Most people I know have at least half a dozen things they’re trying to achieve right now, and even if they had the rest of their lives to try, they wouldn’t be able to finish these to perfection.
• “This constant, unproductive preoccupation with all the things we have to do is the single largest consumer of time and energy.” Kerry Gleeson.
• We all seem to be starved for a win.
The other book, The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, may be less well known, but it is a great and valuable companion volume for Getting Things Done. Consider these quotes:
• We live in digital time. Our rhythms are rushed, rapid fire and relentless, our days carved up into bits and bytes. We celebrate breadth rather than depth, quick reaction more than considered reflection. We skim across the surface, alighting for brief moments at dozens of destinations but rarely remaining for long at any one. We race through our lives without pausing to consider who we really want to be or where we really want to go. We’re wired up but we’re melting down. We survive on too little sleep, wolf down fast foods on the run, fuel up with coffee, and cool down with alcohol and sleeping pills. Faced with relentless demands at work…, we return home feeling exhausted and often experience our families not as a source of joy and renewal, but as one more demand in an already overburdened life.
We walk around with day planners and to-do lists; Palm Pilots and BlackBerries, instant pagers and pop-up reminders – all designed to help us manage our time better. We take pride in our ability to multitask, and we wear our willingness to put in long hours as a badge of honor. The term 24/7 describes a world in which work never ends.
• Fatigue has a cascade effect – fatigue leads to negative emotions leads to muscular tension leads to lack of focus/concentration.
• We need energy to perform, and recovery is more than the absence of work.
I realize that we are too busy to read these books about dealing with the stress of being too busy. But these quotes should whet your appetite while reminding us all that the problem of fatigue is real. It will take a lot of effort to become effortless in our work and life and emotional balance.
• You can order synopses of my presentations for both Getting Things Done and The Power of Full Engagement, at our companion web site, 15 Minute Business Books.